(1) Ch. Inder Singh and 29 others were prosecuted under Ss. 147, 186 and 353/149, Indian Penal Code, in the trial Court. They were found guilty and sentenced to different terms of imprisonment. On appeal to the Additional Sessions Judge, he set aside the convictions under Ss. 186, 353/149 and also under S. 147, Indian Penal Code, and convicted them accordingly, sentencing each of them to imprisonment for two months and a fine of Rs. 50/- and in default of payment of fine to undergo imprisonment for fifteen days. In case of Ch. Inder Singh, the sentences of imprisonment were simple but in the case of others, they were rigorous. They have come up in revision against their convictions and sentences.
(2) It was argued on their behalf that as conviction under S. 186, Indian Penal Code, had been set aside they could not be convicted in law under S. 143, Indian Penal Code, which, according to the counsel, was a lesser offence. The Additional Sessions Judge had set aside their conviction under S. 186, Indian Penal Code, on the ground that the provisions of S. 195, Criminal Procedure Code had not been complied with in this case.
(3) The prosecution case is that petitioner Ch. Inder singh, who is a member of the Legislative Assembly, formed an unlawful assembly along with his co-accused and entered the Court room of Shri Badal Singh, Tehsildar, Narwana, at about 1-30 p.m. on 16-2-1959, raising slogans. Shri Badal Singh was doing judicial work at that time. After entering the Court room, slogans were raised against Betterment Levy which had been imposed by the Government. It is said that in spite of requests to leave the Court room, the accused did not desist from raising slogans, thereby obstructing the judicial work. Shri K. C. Grover, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Jind, reached the Court room of Shri Badal Singh with some police force and persuaded Ch. Inder Singh and some others not to disturb the Court but his requests fell on deaf ears. Shri Badal Singh then sent a memo. Exhibit P. A. to the Station House Officer, Narwana, who arrived and arrested all the accused who were sent up for trial.
(4) Before me the truth of the prosecution version has not been questioned. A legal argument has been raised that conviction under S. 143, Indian Penal Code, in this case cannot be sustained after the conviction of the accused has been set aside under S. 186, Indian Penal Code, for want of compliance with the provisions of S. 195 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Under S. 186, Indian Penal Code, a person who voluntarily obstructs any public servant in the discharge of his public functions, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extent to three months, or with fine which may extend to Rs. 500/-, or with both.
(5) The Sessions Judge has found the petitioners guilty under S. 143, Indian Penal Code, on the ground that they had formed an unlawful assembly and had entered the Court room raising slogans and did not deists despite having been asked to do so, thereby not allowing Shri Badal Singh Tehsildar to do his work, and that the common object of the assembly was to obstruct the Tehsildar from discharging his official duties.
(6) Section 195 (1)(a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure prevents a Court from taking cognizance of an offence punishable under Ss. 172 to 188 of the Indian Penal Code, except on the complaint in writing of the public servant concerned, or of some other public servant to whom he is subordinate. The argument of the learned counsel was that where the real offence said to have been committed, was one under S. 186, Indian penal Code, the accused could not be tried for a minor general offence like the one under S. 143, Penal Code, without a proper complaint under S. 195, Criminal Procedure Code. Reliance was placed for the above contention on In re Chinnayya Goundan, AIR 1948 Mad 474, Bansidhar Patnaik v. province of Orissa, AIR 1951 Orissa 84; Makaradhwaj Sahu v. State, AIR 1954 Orissa 175; and State v. Kathi Unad Ranning, (S) AIR 1955 Sau 10.
(7) There has been a conflict between the various High Courts on this matter and decisions do not appear to be in accord. The other view is that S. 195, Criminal procedure Code, does not bar the trial of an accused person for a distinct offence disclosed by the same facts and which is not included within the ambit of that section. Section 186, Indian Penal Code, punishes voluntary obstruction to a public servant in the discharge of his public functions. The gravamen of the offence under S. 143, Indian Penal Code, is membership of unlawful assembly, having for its common object the commission of unlawful acts specified in S. 141, Indian Penal Code. It does not matter if actual obstruction was in fact offered so long as that was one of the common objects.
The maximum punishment which can be awarded under S. 143, Indian Penal Code is six months or with fine or with both. When compared with offence under S. 186, Indian Penal Code, an offence under S. 143, Indian Penal Code, cannot be considered a minor offence. For purposes of membership of an unlawful assembly, the consensus of purpose is itself an offence distinct from the criminal offence which the accused had agreed to and had intended to commit. It was held in Sheo Ahir v. Emperor, AIR 1938 Pat 584, that if unlawful assembly offered actual resistance, a separate offence of resistance of the process of the law punishable under S. 186 of the Penal Code was committed. Being member of an unlawful assembly and resisting the process of law are two separate offences, though they might have been committed in the course of the same transaction.
The prosecution of an offence under S. 143, Indian Penal Code, which does not require the making of a written complaint by a public servant, is not within any statutory prohibition. Neither S. 195, Criminal Procedure Code, nor any other provision of law lays down that if in the course of the commission of an offence which requires sanction for prosecution, other offences are committed, that cannot be proceeded with. In support of the above view reference may be made to Basir-ul-Huq v. The State of West Bengal, AIR 1953 SC 293, which affirms the Full Bench decision of Calcutta High Court in Dhirendra Nath v. Nurul Huda, AIR 1951 Cal 133 (FB). The view expressed by the Lahore High Court in Chanan Singh v. Tarak Singh, AIR 1942 Lah 76, and Ghulam Mohammad v. Emperor, AIR 1937 Lah 802, was also to the same effect.
(8) Following the above authorities, I am of the view that the prosecution of the accused suffers from no legal flaw and the learned Additional Sessions Judge was right in convicting the accused under S. 143, Indian Penal Code.
(9) It was then submitted by the petitioners' counsel that the Betterment Levy against which the petitioners had agitated, had been withdrawn by the Government. The sentence already undergone should be sufficient. The petitioners have served only one week each. Whatever the nature of the agitation might be, the offence of becoming members of an unlawful assembly with the common object of obstructing an officer engaged in judicial work and in refusing to withdraw till they had to be taken into custody by the police is a very serious matter. Administration of justice and discharging of public functions by public servants will be gravely menaced if the breach on the part of the accused were to be countenanced with leniency. Mr. Anand Sarup drew my attention to Criminal Revision No. 1064 of 1959, in which the sentence already undergone by the accused was held sufficient in a case of similar agitation. In that case the accused had been sentenced to six months' rigorous imprisonment and they had already served two months and twenty-one days. From that case the petitioner's counsel cannot derive any assistance.
(10) Ch. Inder Singh, the leader of the accused petitioner, who was protesting against the imposition of Betterment Levy is a member of the State Legislative Assembly and the grievances of the petitioners and of others of their point of view, could have been ventilated in a legal and constitutional manner on the floor of the Legislative Assembly and even outside. But the office of the Tehsildar was neither the forum nor the uttering of the slogans there, the manner, which the law would permit any persons, for airing their protests against what, in their view, may be an unjust and unpopular imposition. Any calculated interference with the judicial work by a noisy and tumultuous demonstration, as in this case, or by resorting to any other means forbidden by law, cannot be allowed to go unpunished. When the attitude of the accused, whose leader ought to have known better, was that of truculence at the time of the commission of the offence and of recalcitrance during the trial, the sentence of two months' imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 50/- on each accused cannot be deemed excessive.
(11) I find no force in the revision petition which is dismissed. I confirm the conviction and respective sentences imposed upon the accused. They are on bail and ordered to surrender to their bail bonds and to undergo the unsaved portion of their respective sentences.
(12) Revision dismissed.